In addition to being well-trained and really good, how can you turn your flair for the dramatic into a regular income? We got such fresh perspective from Daniel R. Hill’s interview, we had to share some of his secrets to working full-time as an actor.
1. Confidence is key
Every morning when I wake up, I look in the mirror and I see the greatest actor on the planet. I ride the line between supremely confident and cocky: “I’m the best guy for the job. Congratulations, I’m here. Send everybody else home, your job is done for the day. If you hire me, you’re the smartest person in Hollywood.”
That’s not to say I still don’t have things to learn. Like Denzel Washington’s—one of the greatest actors of all time—always said, the thing that he loves is that with acting you can never be perfect. There’s always something to get better at and you’re always your own biggest critic.
2. Build your reel
I did a movie with Jon Voight and James Caan a few years ago—a Hallmark movie of the week of all things—and Jon took a liking to me. We talked a bit, and he goes, “When are you moving to LA?” I think that gave me the extra nudge over the edge that I needed. Not only did Jon Voight give me his stamp of approval and endorsement, but he got me a meeting with his agent at CAA.
But when I got to LA they told me, in a nice way, that I didn’t have enough skin in the game for them. So really, my plan for how to make it when I got here didn’t work. Make sure you have at least a minimum of three scenes. 90 seconds, minimum. Agents aren’t taking meetings off a resume alone. They want to see the work.
3. Treat it like a job
I got a call to read for a huge series regular at 6:00 or 7:00 at night. Eight pages with a big monologue on each page. And the audition was the next day at noon. So, I had less than 24 hours to prepare, and it was a lot of content.
March Madness is going on—I’m from Kentucky, and we love college basketball—and it’s a fun time to hang out with your friends and celebrate. All my friends were going out to BW3’s to watch the games. I stayed in.
I didn’t even have the games on in my house. I literally had the TV off, a lot of lights on, a pencil, paper and ink, and did my script analysis and all the things that I know how to do—my process. Got off book, went to bed around 3am feeling like I really had it down pat.
4. Early is on time, on time is late
Be early. Especially in a place like LA. A 12 mile drive, can take about an hour to get there, 20 minutes to find parking. I’d rather sit there for 40 minutes being uber-prepared than run in saying, “I’m only five minutes late, I’m sorry.” Nobody wants to see you running in, sweating and being late. It throws off your whole game plan.
Where else am I going? This is my job. It’s my firm belief that the job of the actor is auditioning. The perks of the job is that sometimes, every once in a while, they let you play the role!
5. Own the role
I don’t “audition” anymore. That word left my vocabulary a long time ago. This is my role for the next five minutes. This is what I’m bringing to the table, this is what I’m doing with it. If you want to give me some notes, I can do that too. But this is how I see it done. Sit back and enjoy my one-man show for five minutes. ‘Cause it might be the only time I ever play the role.
Great advice as always, Daniel! Does that create any “Aha!” moments for the actors among us? Be sure and comment below with your own tips and takeaways.
You can catch Daniel R. Hill in the Netflix film Point Blank, opening this week, and in Lunacy Production’s Rust Creek!